Conservation of alternative splicing in sodium channels reveals evolutionary focus on release from inactivation and structural insights into gating.
ABSTRACT: KEY POINTS:Sodium channels are critical for supporting fast action potentials in neurons; even mutations which cause small changes in sodium channel activity can have devastating consequences for the function of the nervous system. Alternative splicing also changes the activity of sodium channels, and while it is highly conserved, it is not known whether the functional role of this splicing is also conserved. Our data reveal that splicing has a highly conserved impact on the availability of sodium channels during trains of rapid stimulations, and suggest that in one mammalian channel, Nav1.1 encoded by SCN1A, the increased availability of one splice variant is detrimental. A model reproducing the effects of splicing on channel behaviour suggests that the voltage sensor in the first domain is a rate limiting step for release of the inactivation domain, and highlights the functional specialization of channel domains. ABSTRACT:Voltage-gated sodium channels are critical for neuronal activity, and highly intolerant to variation. Even mutations that cause subtle changes in the activity these channels are sufficient to cause devastating inherited neurological diseases, such as epilepsy and pain. However, these channels do vary in healthy tissue. Alternative splicing modifies sodium channels, but the functional relevance and adaptive significance of this splicing remain poorly understood. Here we use a conserved alternate exon encoding part of the first domain of sodium channels to compare how splicing modifies different channels, and to ask whether the functional consequences of this splicing have been preserved in different genes. Although the splicing event is highly conserved, one splice variant has been selectively removed from Nav1.1 in multiple mammalian species, suggesting that the functional variation in Nav1.1 is less well tolerated. We show for three human channels (Nav1.1, Nav1.2 and Nav1.7) that splicing modifies the return from inactivated to deactivated states, and the differences between splice variants are occluded by antiepileptic drugs that bind to and stabilize inactivated states. A model based on structural data can replicate these changes, and indicates that splicing may exploit a distinct role of the first domain to change channel availability, and that the first domain of all three sodium channels plays a role in determining the rate at which the inactivation domain dissociates. Taken together, our data suggest that the stability of inactivated states is under tight evolutionary control, but that in Nav1.1 faster recovery from inactivation is associated with negative selection in mammals.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels underlie the upstroke of action potentials and are fundamental to neuronal excitability. Small changes in the behavior of these channels are sufficient to change neuronal firing and trigger seizures. These channels are subject to highly conserved alternative splicing, affecting the short linker between the third transmembrane segment (S3) and the voltage sensor (S4) in their first domain. The biophysical consequences of this alternative splicing are incompletely understood. Here we focus on type 1 sodium channels (Nav1.1) that are implicated in human epilepsy. We show that the functional consequences of alternative splicing are highly sensitive to recording conditions, including the identity of the major intracellular anion and the recording temperature. In particular, the inactivation kinetics of channels containing the alternate exon 5N are more sensitive to intracellular fluoride ions and to changing temperature than channels containing exon 5A. Moreover, Nav1.1 channels containing exon 5N recover from inactivation more rapidly at physiological temperatures. Three amino acids differ between exons 5A and 5N. However, the changes in sensitivity and stability of inactivation were reproduced by a single conserved change from aspartate to asparagine in channels containing exon 5A, which was sufficient to make them behave like channels containing the complete exon 5N sequence. These data suggest that splicing at this site can modify the inactivation of sodium channels and reveal a possible interaction between splicing and anti-epileptic drugs that stabilize sodium channel inactivation.
Project description:Alternative splicing is a major mechanism by which potassium and calcium channels increase functional diversity in animals. Extensive alternative splicing of the para sodium channel gene and developmental regulation of alternative splicing have been reported in Drosophila species. Alternative splicing has also been observed for several mammalian voltage-gated sodium channel genes. However, the functional significance of alternative splicing of sodium channels has not been demonstrated. In this study, we identified three mutually exclusive alternative exons encoding part of segments 3 and 4 of domain III in the German cockroach sodium channel gene, para(CSMA). The splice site is conserved in the mouse, fish, and human Na(v)1.6 sodium channel genes, suggesting an ancient origin. One of the alternative exons possesses a stop codon, which would generate a truncated protein with only the first two domains. The splicing variant containing the stop codon is detected only in the PNS, whereas the other two full-size variants were detected in both the PNS and CNS. When expressed in Xenopus oocytes, the two splicing variants produced robust sodium currents, but with different gating properties, whereas the splicing variant with the stop codon did not produce any detectable sodium current. Furthermore, these two functional splicing variants exhibited a striking difference in sensitivity to a pyrethroid insecticide, deltamethrin. Exon swapping partially reversed the channel sensitivity to deltamethrin. Our results therefore provide the first evidence that alternative splicing of a sodium channel gene produces pharmacologically distinct channels.
Project description:T-type (Cav3) channels are categorized as calcium channels, but invertebrate ones can be highly sodium-selective channels. We illustrate that the snail LCav3 T-type channel becomes highly sodium-permeable through exon splicing of an extracellular turret and descending helix in domain II of the four-domain Cav3 channel. Highly sodium-permeable T-type channels are generated without altering the invariant ring of charged residues in the selectivity filter that governs calcium selectivity in calcium channels. The highly sodium-permeant T-type channel expresses in the brain and is the only splice isoform expressed in the snail heart. This unique splicing of turret residues offers T-type channels a capacity to serve as a pacemaking sodium current in the primitive heart and brain in lieu of Nav1-type sodium channels and to substitute for voltage-gated sodium channels lacking in many invertebrates. T-type channels would also contribute substantially to sodium leak conductances at rest in invertebrates because of their large window currents.
Project description:? subunits of mammalian sodium channels play important roles in modulating the expression and gating of mammalian sodium channels. However, there are no orthologs of ? subunits in insects. Instead, an unrelated protein, TipE in Drosophila melanogaster and its orthologs in other insects, is thought to be a sodium channel auxiliary subunit. In addition, there are four TipE-homologous genes (TEH1-4) in D. melanogaster and three to four orthologs in other insect species. TipE and TEH1-3 have been shown to enhance the peak current of various insect sodium channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes. However, limited information is available on how these proteins modulate the gating of sodium channels, particularly sodium channel variants generated by alternative splicing and RNA editing. In this study, we compared the effects of TEH1 and TipE on the function of three Drosophila sodium channel splice variants, DmNav9-1, DmNav22, and DmNav26, in Xenopus oocytes. Both TipE and TEH1 enhanced the amplitude of sodium current and accelerated current decay of all three sodium channels tested. Strikingly, TEH1 caused hyperpolarizing shifts in the voltage-dependence of activation, fast inactivation and slow inactivation of all three variants. In contrast, TipE did not alter these gating properties except for a hyperpolarizing shift in the voltage-dependence of fast inactivation of DmNav26. Further analysis of the gating kinetics of DmNav9-1 revealed that TEH1 accelerated the entry of sodium channels into the fast inactivated state and slowed the recovery from both fast- and slow-inactivated states, thereby, enhancing both fast and slow inactivation. These results highlight the differential effects of TipE and TEH1 on the gating of insect sodium channels and suggest that TEH1 may play a broader role than TipE in regulating sodium channel function and neuronal excitability in vivo.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels are responsible for the rising phase of the action potential in cardiac muscle. Previously, both TTX-sensitive neuronal sodium channels (NaV1.1, NaV1.2, NaV1.3, NaV1.4 and NaV1.6) and the TTX-resistant cardiac sodium channel (NaV1.5) have been detected in cardiac myocytes, but relative levels of protein expression of the isoforms were not determined. Using a quantitative approach, we analyzed z-series of confocal microscopy images from individual mouse myocytes stained with either anti-NaV1.1, anti-NaV1.2, anti-NaV1.3, anti-NaV1.4, anti-NaV1.5, or anti-NaV1.6 antibodies and calculated the relative intensity of staining for these sodium channel isoforms. Our results indicate that the TTX-sensitive channels represented approximately 23% of the total channels, whereas the TTX-resistant NaV1.5 channel represented 77% of the total channel staining in mouse ventricular myocytes. These ratios are consistent with previous electrophysiological studies in mouse ventricular myocytes. NaV1.5 was located at the cell surface, with high density at the intercalated disc, but was absent from the transverse (t)-tubular system, suggesting that these channels support surface conduction and inter-myocyte transmission. Low-level cell surface staining of NaV1.4 and NaV1.6 channels suggest a minor role in surface excitation and conduction. Conversely, NaV1.1 and NaV1.3 channels are localized to the t-tubules and are likely to support t-tubular transmission of the action potential to the myocyte interior. This quantitative immunocytochemical approach for assessing sodium channel density and localization provides a more precise view of the relative importance and possible roles of these individual sodium channel protein isoforms in mouse ventricular myocytes and may be applicable to other species and cardiac tissue types.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels are responsible for the initiation and propagation of action potentials (APs). Two brain isoforms, Nav1.1 and Nav1.6, have very distinct cellular and subcellular expression. Specifically, Nav1.1 is predominantly expressed in the soma and proximal axon initial segment of fast-spiking GABAergic neurons, while Nav1.6 is found at the distal axon initial segment and nodes of Ranvier of both fast-spiking GABAergic and excitatory neurons. Interestingly, an auxiliary voltage-gated sodium channel subunit, Nav?4, is also enriched in the axon initial segment of fast-spiking GABAergic neurons. The C-terminal tail of Nav?4 is thought to mediate resurgent sodium current, an atypical current that occurs immediately following the action potential and is predicted to enhance excitability. To better understand the contribution of Nav1.1, Nav1.6 and Nav?4 to high frequency firing, we compared the properties of these two channel isoforms in the presence and absence of a peptide corresponding to part of the C-terminal tail of Nav?4. We used whole-cell patch clamp recordings to examine the biophysical properties of these two channel isoforms in HEK293T cells and found several differences between human Nav1.1 and Nav1.6 currents. Nav1.1 channels exhibited slower closed-state inactivation but faster open-state inactivation than Nav1.6 channels. We also observed a greater propensity of Nav1.6 to generate resurgent currents, most likely due to its slower kinetics of open-state inactivation, compared to Nav1.1. These two isoforms also showed differential responses to slow and fast AP waveforms, which were altered by the Nav?4 peptide. Although the Nav?4 peptide substantially increased the rate of recovery from apparent inactivation, Nav?4 peptide did not protect either channel isoform from undergoing use-dependent reduction with 10 Hz step-pulse stimulation or trains of slow or fast AP waveforms. Overall, these two channels have distinct biophysical properties that may differentially contribute to regulating neuronal excitability.
Project description:Local anesthetics block sodium channels in a state-dependent fashion, binding with higher affinity to open and/or inactivated states. Gating current measurements show that local anesthetics immobilize a fraction of the gating charge, suggesting that the movement of voltage sensors is modified when a local anesthetic binds to the pore of the sodium channel. Here, using voltage clamp fluorescence measurements, we provide a quantitative description of the effect of local anesthetics on the steady-state behavior of the voltage-sensing segments of a sodium channel. Lidocaine and QX-314 shifted the midpoints of the fluorescence-voltage (F-V) curves of S4 domain III in the hyperpolarizing direction by 57 and 65 mV, respectively. A single mutation in the S6 of domain IV (F1579A), a site critical for local anesthetic block, abolished the effect of QX-314 on the voltage sensor of domain III. Both local anesthetics modestly shifted the F-V relationships of S4 domain IV toward hyperpolarized potentials. In contrast, the F-V curve of the S4 domain I was shifted by 11 mV in the depolarizing direction upon QX-314 binding. These antagonistic effects of the local anesthetic indicate that the drug modifies the coupling between the voltage-sensing domains of the sodium channel. Our findings suggest a novel role of local anesthetics in modulating the gating apparatus of the sodium channel.
Project description:Action potential generation in excitable cells such as myocytes and neurons critically depends on voltage-gated sodium channels. In mammals, sodium channels exist as macromolecular complexes that include a pore-forming alpha subunit and 1 or more modulatory beta subunits. Although alpha subunit genes have been cloned from diverse metazoans including flies, jellyfish, and humans, beta subunits have not previously been identified in any non-mammalian species. To gain further insight into the evolution of electrical signaling in vertebrates, we investigated beta subunit genes in the teleost Danio rerio (zebrafish).We identified and cloned single zebrafish gene homologs for beta1-beta3 (zbeta1-zbeta3) and duplicate genes for beta4 (zbeta4.1, zbeta4.2). Sodium channel beta subunit loci are similarly organized in fish and mammalian genomes. Unlike their mammalian counterparts, zbeta1 and zbeta2 subunit genes display extensive alternative splicing. Zebrafish beta subunit genes and their splice variants are differentially-expressed in excitable tissues, indicating tissue-specific regulation of zbeta1-4 expression and splicing. Co-expression of the genes encoding zbeta1 and the zebrafish sodium channel alpha subunit Nav1.5 in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells increased sodium current and altered channel gating, demonstrating functional interactions between zebrafish alpha and beta subunits. Analysis of the synteny and phylogeny of mammalian, teleost, amphibian, and avian beta subunit and related genes indicated that all extant vertebrate beta subunits are orthologous, that beta2/beta4 and beta1/beta3 share common ancestry, and that beta subunits are closely related to other proteins sharing the V-type immunoglobulin domain structure. Vertebrate sodium channel beta subunit genes were not identified in the genomes of invertebrate chordates and are unrelated to known subunits of the para sodium channel in Drosophila.The identification of conserved orthologs to all 4 voltage-gated sodium channel beta subunit genes in zebrafish and the lack of evidence for beta subunit genes in invertebrate chordates together indicate that this gene family emerged early in vertebrate evolution, prior to the divergence of teleosts and tetrapods. The evolutionary history of sodium channel beta subunits suggests that these genes may have played a key role in the diversification and specialization of electrical signaling in early vertebrates.
Project description:Mutations in the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.1 (SCN1A) are linked to various epileptic phenotypes with different severities, however, the consequences of newly identified SCN1A variants on patient phenotype is uncertain so far. The functional impact of nine SCN1A variants, including five novel variants identified in this study, was studied using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings measurement of mutant Nav1.1 channels expressed in HEK293T mammalian cells. E78X, W384X, E1587K, and R1596C channels failed to produce measurable sodium currents, indicating complete loss of channel function. E788K and M909K variants resulted in partial loss of function by exhibiting reduced current density, depolarizing shifts of the activation and hyperpolarizing shifts of the inactivation curves, and slower recovery from inactivation. Hyperpolarizing shifts of the activation and inactivation curves were observed in D249E channels along with slower recovery from inactivation. Slower recovery from inactivation was observed in E78D and T1934I with reduced current density in T1934I channels. Various functional effects were observed with the lack of sodium current being mainly associated with severe phenotypes and milder symptoms with less damaging channel alteration. In vitro functional analysis is thus fundamental for elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of epilepsy, to guide patients' treatment, and finally indicate misdiagnosis of SCN1A related epilepsies.
Project description:Propranolol is a widely used, non-selective ?-adrenergic receptor antagonist with proven efficacy in treating cardiovascular disorders and in the prevention of migraine headaches. At plasma concentrations exceeding those required for ?-adrenergic receptor inhibition, propranolol also exhibits anti-arrhythmic ("membrane stabilizing") effects that are not fully explained by ?-blockade. Previous in vitro studies suggested that propranolol may have local anesthetic effects. We directly tested the effects of propranolol on heterologously expressed recombinant human cardiac (NaV1.5) and brain (NaV1.1, NaV1.2, NaV1.3) sodium channels using whole-cell patch-clamp recording. We found that block was not stereospecific as we observed approximately equal IC50 values for tonic and use-dependent block by R-(+) and S-(-) propranolol (tonic block: R: 21.4??M vs S: 23.6??M; use-dependent block: R: 2.7??M vs S: 2.6??M). Metoprolol and nadolol did not block NaV1.5 indicating that sodium channel block is not a class effect of ?-blockers. The biophysical effects of R-(+)-propranolol on NaV1.5 and NaV1.1 resembled that of the prototypical local anesthetic lidocaine including the requirement for a critical phenylalanine residue (F1760 in NaV1.5) in the domain 4 S6 segment. Finally, we observed that brain sodium channels exhibited less sensitivity to R-(+)-propranolol than NaV1.5 channels. Our findings establish sodium channels as targets for propranolol and may help explain some beneficial effects of the drug in treating cardiac arrhythmias, and may explain certain adverse central nervous system effects.